Controversial Britannia Coconut Dancers rescued after securing funding

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A controversial folk dance event that may not have taken place over Easter can now take place thanks to traffic management funding.

The Britannia Coconut Dancers, a folk dance troupe based in the Rossendale Valley, previously said their traditional Easter Saturday dance, which dates back more than a century, might not have happened. It was originally allocated to traffic management funding, which had been provided in previous years by Rossendale Borough Council.

But now the band have confirmed the performance will take place on Easter Saturday (April 16) after work to secure funding.

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The dance is a decades-old tradition in Bacup and sees the group dancing through the town and surrounding villages. The group describes themselves as “a very unique folk troupe based in the Rossendale Valley, in keeping with tradition passed down from generation to generation.”

The troupe has previously been at the center of controversy over its decision to use blackface during its routines. They previously said their all-black makeup had no racial connotations and reflected the dance’s origins in the mining community.

Posting a statement on social media, a spokesperson said: “The Britannia Coconut Dancers are pleased to announce that we will be performing our Boundary Dance on Easter Saturday 16th April 2022. After much hard work the team have now secured the necessary funding for traffic management for the days event.

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“It must be said that the situation we found ourselves in was extremely unfortunate and was not the fault of the team and discussions surrounding these events are currently ongoing. The team is not and will not be used in the political arena, in previous years the team have always had the support of our local and county councillors, the current situation we find ourselves in is the result of very unprofessional conduct.

“Our city’s heritage is important and comes with responsibility, we are sad to see that some people think our team should be sidelined and that debate is the way forward for everyone involved. We would like to thank the entire community and local businesses for their support during this time and we are all looking forward to an amazing day with everyone.”

They added: “With our thanks to the people below for their generous donations to help or carry on the tradition, Mark Butterworth.

“When hearing of the lack of funding for the traditional Easter Saturday dance by the Britannia Cocoonutters, the Sutton Group of Companies sought to see if they could help.

“The Covid pandemic has prevented the event from happening for the past two years, so it would be a real shame for the town of Bacup if it couldn’t take place this year, now that we are free from restrictions.



The Britannia Coconut Dancers in action

“The group, which includes Wynsors, Limelight Signs and JBI Footwear, employ many local Rossendale people. With our support, we hope the local community can enjoy the return of this long-established tradition. It has always been a favorite on the schedule, which will hopefully be back for years to come. Andrew Lyth – JVT Construction and Stephen Greenhalgh – J & J Ormerod.”

The one-day event, originally scheduled to start at 9 a.m., would feature numerous taverns, streets, residential areas and landmarks along its route. Based on an oral tradition believed to date back 150 years, the group’s history is said to have been passed down to the area by the Cornish tin miners who settled in the area renowned for stone and coal mining at the turn of the 19th century. , with over 3,000 men and boys involved in the industry at its peak.

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